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THE GRACE GATE


An active, dedicated, hard-working church member dreamed that he passed away after a long and satisfying life. As he approached the heavenly gate, he noticed a sign posted which read, "ENTRANCE REQUIREMENT: 1,000 POINTS."


The man looked a bit worried. He walked up to the angel guarding the gate and said, "That requirement seems pretty high. Do you think I could possibly have accumulated that many points?"


The angel kindly replied, "Well, why don't you tell me what you have done, and I will tell you how many points you have earned."


"OK, then," the man said enthusiastically. "I was an immersed believer in Christ for 32 years; I taught a Sunday school class for over 12 years; I was a youth chaperone whenever they needed me; and I was a regular member of the church choir!"


"That's wonderful!" said the angel. "Now let me see. That's worth -- ONE POINT."


The man suddenly became very pale and began to perspire, but he went on. "Well, I tithed all my income, and sometimes gave even more. Also I served as an elder in the church, and I served on the finance committee and the building committee. I attended every work day at the church; I mowed the grass and did repairs and painting. At every fellowship supper I helped set up the chairs and tables and then stayed late and helped take them down."


He looked expectantly at the angel, who smiled sympathetically and answered politely, "That sounds great! That's worth -- ANOTHER POINT. Now you have a total of TWO."


The man looked as if he were about to go into shock. He spoke rapidly with a sense of desperation: "I invited a lot of people to church, and often went calling with the preacher. I won quite a few people to Christ. I supported the camp program, and for a while was a forwarding agent for a missionary family. And I never cheated on my income tax!"


The angel tried to speak encouragingly as he said, "That's quite a record of good works! That's worth still another point. Now you have -- THREE."


The poor man's face sagged with futility, and his shoulders drooped as he seemed resigned to his fate. "I may as well give up," he mourned. "I don't think I can ever be good enough to get into Heaven. In fact, it seems impossible for me or anybody else to get in there without the GRACE OF GOD."


"Ah, now, did you say GRACE? You know what? YOU'RE STANDING AT THE WRONG GATE! This is the LAW gate; that's where you need the 1,000 points. Look over there. Do you see that other gate, with another line of people leading up to it? That's the GRACE gate. You don't need any points to get in there. Under grace, heaven is free!"

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